Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Arcade and Other Strange Stories - eBook


To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first time I got paid to write something (a short story from 1997 included in this book), I've retitled and rebranded my eBook of short stories, plus added a new introduction and a new essay called "The Retro Video Game Craze." You can check out the new cover, the new intro, and read the first few pages of the The Arcade and Other Strange Tales by clicking HERE.

(The original KISS pinball machine and Mortal Kombat play prominent roles in the title story.)



Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Back Issue Magazine Hits 100


Against all odds, Back Issue has hit the magical 100 mark in a tough era for the magazine industry.

Established in 2003, the colorful periodical is published eight times a year by TwoMorrows Publishing. The editor is author and comic book scribe Michael Eury, who has a lengthy interview in this issue conducted by industry veteran Robert Greenberger. As an occasional contributor to Back Issue myself, I found the interview fascinating as Eury answered many questions I’ve been curious about for a long time, such as how he got the Back Issue editor gig to begin with and when he began reading comic books.

Back Issue 100, which has a nice heft to it that you won’t get from reading on your phone (though it is available digitally), focuses on Bronze Age fanzines and fandom, meaning the early 1970s up until sometime during the 1980s. There’s a history of comic book newzines (meaning the issue dips into the 1960s), such as The Comic Reader, along with a full chapter on The Buyer’s Guide to Comic Fandom (later The Comics Buyer’s Guide), written by the original publisher himself, Alan Light. Other chapters cover such fanzines as FCA, which stood for Fawcett Collectors of America, and Squa Tront, which was the best of the EC fanzines.

One chapter starts off interesting but then gets caught up in sales minutia that only hardcore fans (such as myself) will care about. “My DC Comicmobile Memories” is by DC’s former “Answer Man” columnist Bob Rozakis, who wrote little Q&A tidbits in the back of DC comic books decades before Google and Wikipedia. Anecdotes from his days driving the Comicmobile van, such as the little boy who always approached wanting ice cream (he struck out on two accounts—he only had a nickel, and the van only sold comic books), are a lot of fun, but casual fans may want to simply skim the sale info, which goes on for more than three pages.

Rounding out the issue are entertaining and informative chapters on The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide (featuring an interview by Robert Overstreet himself), FOOM (Marvel’s folksy fanzine), and The Amazing World of DC Comics (DC’s slick “prozine”). All three chapters feature commentary by people who were there, such as FOOM editors David Anthony Craft, Scott Edelman, and Tony Isabella, who can be forgiven for lapses in memory—this was many years ago, and FOOM was a minor part of many jobs he was doing for Marvel at the time.

Saving the best for last, my favorite part of the magazine is the "Super DC Con ’76" chapter written by Eury and featuring memories of the fabled event by Rozakis, Jack C. Harris, John Workman, and a fan named Jim DeLorenzo, who went with his dad when he was 14 years old. Jim includes photos of his convention ticket, the Superman statue that was presented to then-New York City Mayor Abe Beame, Superman’s birthday cake, Jim getting an autograph from Neal Adams, and more.

All in all, this is a fitting way for Back Issue to celebrate 100 issues. Here’s hoping for 100 more!